The process of setting up a website for your company or for personal use can be a daunting process, especially if you are starting out with little knowledge of the task at hand. One of the most important cornerstones of any website is the hosting. Web hosting is, in simple terms, a service that gives you a location for storing the webpages and files that make up your website. Many people have likened hosting to real estate to try and explain what it is and how crucial it is for a website. A web hosting company can be seen as a ‘landlord’ for websites – they provide the space on the internet where your website lives.
So what options are there for hosting your website? A quick internet search for ‘web hosting’ will bring up hundreds of different options offered by thousands of different companies – almost enough to scare people away from even starting up a website! There are, however, two main options for hosting – free or subscription. But why do people bother to pay for a service that many offer for free? It mainly comes down to the fact that you can do so much more with a paid web hosting scheme than a free one. With a subscription to a hosting provider your site will generally have higher amounts of bandwidth, more storage and less adverts (in many instances no advertisements at all). More detailed options for customising your site may also be available to you on a paid scheme.
Another option that is available with paid web hosting is support for you and your website, in most basic cases this comes in some form of customer support. However, on a more professional level many web hosting companies provide ‘managed hosting’. This is when a hosting company will maintain and manage a server on behalf of a company. Management of a server will include its configuration and monitoring as well as the set-up of hardware and software. Managed hosting can be especially useful for businesses as it frees up time that would be spent on managing the server and dealing with any problems that arise. Many hosting companies also offer a range of extra services to go with basic management of the server. For example, a company may offer performance monitoring, firewalls and intrusion detection.
The biggest advantage of managed hosting is the expertise that comes with it; your website and your server are in the hands of dedicated professionals who can deal with any problems or errors. The customer can also retain the ability to control and customise their web content to a high level without needing to have a working knowledge of server maintenance. This form of hosting will generally include 24/7 support along with a back-up of the site in case anything goes wrong on the customer’s end. Security benefits can also come with managed hosting – virus protection is often included but in addition the hosting can be constantly monitored so if there is a security breach it can be quickly dealt with. On the other hand, the advantages of unmanaged hosting are that the customer has full control over their hosting and it is a cheaper option to managed hosting.
Managed hosting has a number of technical advantages and can be very useful, especially for businesses. The services offered can vary between companies, so when looking for the service that is right for your needs both price and the extra options available need to be taken into consideration.